Common Dog Dental Problems in Shiba Inu

A dog’s dental health is often overlooked compared to grooming, bathing, and brushing. And just like humans, our canine buddies are also prone to dog dental problems. Shina Inus are not any different. Even a harmless bad breath can be a symptom of severe dental diseases developing inside your Shiba’s mouth. And while cavities are rare, periodontal and gum diseases are not. 

Here are some common dog dental problems that you should know about. 

Common Dog Dental Problems

Dog Dental Problems

Many dog dental disorders are similar to those that occur in humans. And just with people, it can be prevented with proper dental care. 

Periodontal (Gum) Disease

When there is a bacterial infection on the tissue around the teeth, this results in inflammation of the gums, the ligaments, and the bone. If gum disease is untreated, it’ll lead to tooth loss. 

The leading cause of gum disease is the buildup of bacteria or plaque at the gum line. This is mostly due to poor oral hygiene. As the bacteria accumulate, bacterial waste products, including hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, acids, and other compounds, damage the tissues which lead to tissue breakdown and eventually, loss of teeth. 

Here are the signs that your Shiba Inu might have Periodontal disease: 

  • Eating difficulties
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the teeth or mouth
  • Nose discharge
  • Swelling under the eyes
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discoloration or visible tartar
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Red, swollen, bleeding gums
  • Loss of appetite

There are two forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. 


Gingivitis refers to inflamed gums due to bacterial plaque. However, the ligaments and bones are unaffected. As observed, the gums will have a change in color. It’ll go from coral pink to red or purple and the edge of the gum will swell and bleed upon contact. Bad breath is also a common symptom of gingivitis.

Usually, gingivitis can be treated through professional teeth cleaning, including cleaning below the gum line. However, if there’s no improvement, a more extensive cleaning must be done. After the cleanings, a sealant to the dog’s teeth is applied to prevent more bacterial accumulation and for faster healing. 

There are cases where dogs have no response to the treatment so they need to be checked for other diseases, such as immune system issues and diabetes. Gingivitis is also a recurring disease, especially if your Shiba’s teeth are not kept clean. 


The second form of gum disease is periodontitis and is one of the most serious dental problems. This is a more severe case since it causes damage to the gums, ligaments, and bone. This is usually because of years of buildup plaque, tartar, and gingivitis. Unfortunately, it is irreversible and can lead to permanent loss of tooth support. 

Periodontitis affects small-breed dogs more than larger dogs. If your Shiba’s regular diet includes hard kibble, they are less likely to be affected because chewing has teeth cleaning effect. 

Periodontitis begins when your Shiba is around 4 to 6 years old and if left untreated, might result in tooth loss. Treatment can be done through professional cleaning above and below the gum line. There will be cases where surgery is required to gain deeper access to the root surface. 

As part of the diagnosis and treatment, an x-ray of the jaws is required. Here, your veterinarian will be able to determine the extent of the bone support loss and make necessary treatment plans suitable for it. In addition, your Shiba suffering from periodontitis might need tooth extractions to allow the tissues to heal. 

Endodontic Disease

Endodontic disease occurs inside the teeth. The conditions that can be listed under endodontic disease are tooth injury, tooth fracture, enamel abnormality, and tooth decay. 

Fractured teeth can come from external trauma, like aggressive play or car accidents. It can also come from biting inappropriate and hard objects such as bones, rocks, fences, or cages. Treatment might require tooth extraction or a root canal procedure. 

Some signs of Endodontic diseaase include: 

  • Painful teeth that your Shiba won’t like getting touched or tapped
  • Reddish-brown, purple, or gray-colored tooth
  • A red or black hole on a crown
  • Face sweeling
  • Decrease in appetite

Keep in mind that most dogs mask their pain, making diagnosis difficult. Getting X-rays of the mouth can determine the cause of any dental issues.

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